Best Might Be Yet To Come For Offense

The Ohio State football team's offense hasn't exactly struggled through the first quarter of the 2012 season, but the Buckeyes believe the unit has only scratched the surface of how dangerous the team could be with the football.

Through the first three games of the 2012 season, the Ohio State football team ranks 20th in the nation and tops in the Big Ten in scoring offense with an average of 40.67 points per game. With an average of 453.67 yards per contest, the Buckeyes rank 42nd nationally and fourth in the conference.

Just imagine what those numbers might look like when the offense really starts clicking.

To hear Ohio State players and coaches talk, the offense has yet to show its true potential. There have been flashes, of course, as the Buckeyes have begun the season with three straight victories. But consistency has so far eluded the unit.

"When we're good, we're pretty dang good," OSU offensive coordinator Tom Herman said. "We just have to be good more often. We need to be more consistent as an offense. I think that's probably the biggest thing we have to figure out as a staff; how to put the kids in a position to be more consistent and eliminate mental mistakes."

Led by dynamic quarterback Braxton Miller, Ohio State has piled on the points through the first quarter of the season. Miller is a big reason why. He has dazzled against Miami (Ohio), Central Florida and Cal to the tune of 998 yards of total offense, a total better than 12 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams have as a whole through three games – Utah (984), Washington (940), Colorado State (927), Eastern Michigan (927), Miami (Ohio) (890), Colorado (869), Wake Forest (845), UConn (834), Idaho (828), Wisconsin (828), New Mexico (785) and Maryland (775).

Miller has been aided by the continued progression of OSU's wide receivers. Two of them – junior Corey "Philly" Brown and sophomore Devin Smith – rank among the top 10 in the Big Ten in receptions per game and receiving yards per game. Smith has emerged as a big-play producer with his one-handed touchdown catch against the RedHawks and his late fourth-quarter winning touchdown connection with Miller against Cal proving why. Brown has already topped the team's 2011 top individual receiving total of 14 with 16 grabs already this year, a team-high to go with one touchdown.

The group that represented arguably the largest question mark on offense heading into the season has fared nicely, according to Herman.

"I'm pleased with the growth of the wide receiver corps," Herman said. "I don't think anybody would say we're where we need to be for … the level we need to be at. But we're growing."

The growing aspect is one that has been mentioned a lot concerning the offense. While most involved are happy with the results, the desire for improvement and consistency is evident. The inconsistency was most noticeable in OSU's most recent game, a 35-28 victory against Cal. The Buckeyes raced out to a 20-7 halftime lead against the Golden Bears but found traction difficult on offense during a third quarter that saw Ohio State have three of its four possessions end in three-and-outs. Cal took a 21-20 lead early in the fourth quarter and later tied the game 28-28 before the Buckeyes pulled out a seven-point win.

"We've scored enough points to win each game, but at the same time, there's been some stuff that has happened each game where we weren't clicking," senior fullback Zach Boren said. "We had too many three-and-outs on Saturday. Some drives have stalled out. I would say each game we've jumped out to a lead … and we just couldn't really keep it going, keep the momentum going.

"That's something that as an offense, once we do jump out to that lead and the defense is holding them, we just have to keep on going and kind of finish the game off."

Once the Buckeyes can put it together – and having a healthy Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde to share the bulk of the carries from the tailback position in the future will help – Boren knows the offense will only become more dangerous.

"It's crazy to think we haven't been full-go as a whole offensive unit yet this season," Boren said. "We're still putting up some good numbers and still winning games. We're excited to see what we can do a full unit out there with everyone out there."

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